e-AIR Newsletter October 2016

Election 2016: Focus on Higher Education

By Thomas Harnisch, Director of State Relations and Policy Analysis at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities

Presidential elections typically include proposals on issues that the candidates view as critical decision drivers for voters. While national defense, taxes, and jobs invariably make the list, other policy topics come and go depending on the unique circumstances of the times. Higher education has long been a third-tier campaign issue, but growing concerns about college affordability and rising student debt have catapulted higher education into the upper tier of policy issues.

In normal electoral cycles, public visibility of the issue would create competing policy visions by the two major party candidates, but this year’s unconventional political contest between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and businessman Donald Trump offers a contrast in substance and specificity. Hillary Clinton has proposed an expansive, ambitious federal effort to fund and reform higher education, while Donald Trump has discussed a few policy concerns, but has not yet outlined a comprehensive higher education plan. MORE
Nominations are Now Open
Gary R. Pike, Immediate Past President
One of the benefits of AIR membership is that you have the opportunity to nominate and elect the vice president, members of the Board of Directors, and members of the Nominations and Elections Committee.

On October 3, members received an email inviting them to nominate individuals for leadership positions. This is your opportunity to help chart the future of AIR, and I hope you will take advantage of the opportunity by nominating your colleagues.

In the article below, Heather Kelly, a former Board member and current member of the Nominations and Elections Committee, talks about the benefits of serving in a leadership role.

Serving AIR -- What’s in it for You?

Heather Kelly, Director of Institutional Research, University of Delaware

“Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve.”

--Martin Luther King, 1968

I already know AIR members are great. Nothing has made me more aware of this fact than being a member of the AIR Board of Directors and the Nominations and Elections Committee. This has given me the opportunity to interact with amazing individuals who are willing to serve their professional association, AIR. In addition to AIR members being great, the Association is great, in large part due to the countless individuals who are willing to volunteer their time and talents to the Executive Office staff.

Did you know that AIR has played an instrumental role in sponsored initiatives such as the Data and Decisions Academy, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation-funded initiative Improving & Transforming Institutional Research in Postsecondary Education, the NCES Data Institute, the Access Group and NSF Research and Dissertation Grant Programs, and the System Office Role in IR?

How about the fact that AIR also conducts research, assessment, and evaluations on a variety of topics of interest to professionals in IR and related fields and is committed to making data and resources available to AIR members and the greater higher education community?

Finally, AIR offers a number of online and face-to-face education opportunities that you may have taken advantage of, such as the Data and Decisions Academy, IPEDS Workshops, the NCES Data Institute, or AIR Forums and Pre-Conference Workshops. All of these valuable resources and educational opportunities better equip us in the IR profession to meet the needs of data-informed decision making at our institutions.

Now the question I want you to ask yourself is: Why does AIR do what they do? The simple answer lies in the Governance Policies established by the AIR Board of Directors, specifically the Ends policy. While the AIR Board does not tell the AIR Executive Office how to do things, the AIR Board has a direct influence on what the AIR Executive Office will do via the Ends policy.

Being involved in policy governance and monitoring discussions is extremely powerful and rewarding. You learn to listen as well as consider and value different perspectives, which leads to the AIR Board speaking as one voice in order to advocate for what is good for all AIR members. MORE
Who's on the Move?
New titles. New promotions. New institutions. Friends and colleagues on the move.
Public Opinion on Higher Education
Survey data released last month by Public Agenda suggest that public confidence in higher education is waning as American’s are losing confidence in the necessity of a college education for workforce success. The data reveal that while the public are in favor of reduced costs for higher education for low and middle income families, they are simultaneously concerned about wasteful spending on campus. MORE.
Thanks to AIR Members
Our members are not only incredibly helpful, they are a pleasure to work with. Here are some special thanks to those who have gone beyond the call of duty for our Association.
Strategies to Organize and Respond to Surveys
Dear Liana: How can my IR department use project management strategies to organize and respond to publishers’ surveys?

Responding to publishers’ surveys is quite a complex process. It includes a lot more than just sending data to an editor. Therefore, I organize my work using a project management methodology adapted from the Project Management Institute (PMI).

Because various project management strategies could be adapted for this kind of work, I encourage IR professionals working on similar projects to review different management strategies and adapt to the ones that they feel more comfortable with and the ones that better apply to their specific institution. MORE

This month’s question is answered by Liana Crisan-Vandeborne, Resource Planning Analyst, The Ohio State University.
Data Bite
We’re going to explore the financial resources of the IR Office over the next few Data Bite articles. This month, we’ll look at the location of the financial resources that support the IR Office.

Results from the National Survey of IR Offices show that 9 out of 10 IR offices have their own budget, while 1 out of 4 IR offices secure funds through their supervisor’s budget. MORE

New Wall Street Journal and Times Higher Education U.S. College Ranking
Regardless of your opinion about rankings, the fact remains that humans seem drawn to headlines that tout “top 10” and “best.” Rankings assign value between services—some of which are distinctly different—but the institutional research community understands that such values are only as good as the methodology used to calculate them.

As IR professionals, it is important that we stay up to speed with changes in the higher education landscape, especially when those changes relate to the production, analysis, and consumption of data. This is one way we provide value to our institutions and support their missions. As such, it is imperative for the IR community to be aware that a new source of college rankings has arrived on the market. MORE
Hone Your Assessment Skills

View the recorded sessions below to learn how to use self-reported survey data to understand first-year college student engagement and its relationship to academic success and retention and how to align programmatic assessment to state-mandated performance metrics.

Actual Campus Involvement, Self-reported Engagement, and First-year Outcome
This study combines institutional data with self-reported survey data from Mapworks and NSSE to examine the relationship between actual participation in campus activities, student engagement, and academic performance and retention among first-year college students. The presentation illustrates an empirical example of how researchers can use institutional records and self-reported survey data to understand first-year college student engagement and its relationship to academic success and retention.Presenter: Wen Qi, Ball State University

Navigating the Path to Aligning Performance Metrics to Assessment
Institutions are challenged to develop creative ways to meet not only university-level goals related to graduation and retention, but also state mandates if they want to compete in a global society. As such, institutions are now being mandated to achieve surmountable goals that are being tied to performance metrics, and possibly funding. This presentation provides an overview of how one institution revamped its assessment process to align programmatic assessment to state-mandated performance metrics. Presenters: Sundra Kincey, Franz Reneau, and Mark Howse, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University
Self-Service Fact Book Redesign
By Jessica Steinmann, Data and Systems Analyst, Institutional Research and Dale Amburgey, Assistant Director, Institutional Research

Over the past year, the Office of Institutional Research at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University has been working on a redesign of its website for internal and external audiences. A component of this project has focused on altering the manner by which we provide university data. Historically, Embry-Riddle published a Fact Book and posted PDF files to the Institutional Research website. Although the Fact Book files were thorough and provided a tremendous amount of data, the presentation of data was static. MORE

AIR Travel Grant Furthers Educational Experience at Forum
Kris Altucher, Sarah Bauer, Yi Cao, Mark Leany, and Renate Otterbach were five of the 30 2016 AIR Affiliated Organization (AO) Travel Grant winners. The grant was created to partner with AOs and serve the skill development needs of institutional researchers who might otherwise be unable to attend the Forum. Qualifying AOs receive matching funds from AIR on a dollar-for-dollar basis, up to $1,000. eAIR spoke with these 2016 Forum presenters about their experience with the travel grant.

eAIR: 2016 was the second year that the AIR Affiliated Organization Travel Grant was offered. What was your reaction when you found out you had been awarded a grant for travel to the 2016 Forum?

Kris Altucher: I was thrilled. I had been to an AIR Forum a couple of times before, but not in quite a few years. So I knew it would be big, bustling, and full of interesting people and ideas.

Sarah Bauer: I am in the process of shifting focus in my position and was pleased that I would have funding to attend AIR. My institutional professional development money was still focused on skills and knowledge from my previous role, so this allowed me to jump back into the AIR organization and gain current insights that are serving me well in my new role. MORE
Using VBA in Excel to Work with Slicers
By Marlene Clapp, Director of Institutional Effectiveness, Massachusetts Maritime Academy
eAIR has recently published a number of helpful Tech Tips that feature Excel slicers, including Heather Friesen's tip on Excel dashboards as a business intelligence (BI) tool and Jim Fergerson's on simple interactive Excel dashboards.

These Tech Tips inspired me to adopt the use of slicers in a recent report. However, in order to simplify my report and make it more user-friendly, I needed to go beyond the standard features associated with slicers in Excel. MORE

How to Identify, Mark, and Sort Duplicates in Excel (Without Excel Freezing)

By Chris Hubbard Jackson, Director of Grants and Research, St. Charles Community College
1. Open the Excel file in which you would like to identify, mark, and sort the duplicates. Select the columns that include data.

2. On the Home Tab, click Conditional Formatting > Highlight Cell Rules > More Rules.

3. The “New Formatting Rule” Box will appear. Click Format only unique or duplicate values.

4. Under “Preview,” click Format.

5. Under “Fill,” select the color you want and click OK. MORE
Good Reads for the Higher Ed Professional
Keep current with the latest news from these influential journals:

- Innovative Higher Education
- New Directions for Institutional Research
Announcements for conferences, meetings, institutes, symposiums, and other events of interest. See the LISTINGS.
Keeping AIR Members Informed
AIR welcomes brief announcements of interest to the IR and assessment communities, such as the release of a report, funding opportunities or a request for applications. Send your announcement to eAIR@airweb.org and include a link to your website as well as a contact name and email address. Announcements
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